The article reflecting on practice using learning journals in higher and continuing education helps students understand the importance of journal in the learning process (Langer, 2002). Most researchers have discussed the use of journals in critical reflection, but the researchers have not discussed the use of journal in assisting adult non traditional students like professional students. This journal analyzes how the use of journals has affected the learning process of adult students in professional fields. The definition of reflection differs from one researcher to another (Langer, 2002). Some researchers like Moon argue that reflection helps one consider something deeply. Other researchers like Dewey and Huffish argue that reflection helps people reflect on purpose so as to process a useful outcome. Learning journals have many uses. For example, learning journals help students in different departments like science, engineering and mathematics master the content they have learned. Several people carried research to analyze the uses of journals. In science learning journals helped students improve their learning skills and communication (Langer, 2002).
In another study, learning journals were found to help mathematics students develop abstract thinking (Langer, 2002). This helped students conceptualize meaning of technical definitions .In addition to improving skills and communication, journals helped students improve their skills in problem solving. This is because students were allowed to write their findings instead of memorizing the content. Journals also helped physics students clarify their ideas and thoughts after carrying out experiments. They also helped students’ synthesis the content they learned and reflect the content (Langer, 2002). They were able to reflect the content and how it affected their learning experiences and personal experiences. Moreover, journals helped adult students apply what they learned in their work place. It helped students relate theory and practice. This made it easy for students to reflect on what they had learned (Langer, 2002).
Two methods were used in the research. In the first method, the instructor requested the students to submit learning journals on weekly basis (Langer, 2002). The journals were required to reference the content learned in the previous weeks. Students used different formats to present the journals. The instructor provided a sample format for the students to use. The students submitted two journals to the instructor. The instructor retained one of the journals, and each student received a journal from the instructor with comments. A total of 20 learning journals from the students were selected for the study. The researchers used various methods to select the journals (Langer, 2002). The researchers used gender representation, departmental representation and session presentation. The journals were selected using equal gender representation. Students were selected equally from the three departments. The journals were selected using the last name of every tenth student. The names were placed in alphabetical order.
This was to ensure equal distribution in terms of gender and department. A total of 300 learning journals were read in the selection process. The researchers read each journal to identify the content, the format styles used and the subject in the journal (Langer, 2002). The researchers identified student reflection in the journals. Common themes were identified and put together to develop questions for an interview. Another method that was used in the study is interview. Two researchers identified 10 students to be interviewed (Langer, 2002). The interview date was set six months after the students completed the course. The interview was aimed at identifying how students perceive journal writing assignments, and the impact the journals had on students.The instructor requested the students to sign a form to authorize their interview data to be used in research. The researchers used the interview guide to check if the interview touched on the right topic (Langer, 2002).
Results and data collection and analysis
Most students did not format their journals, but they used the sample format given by the instructor to write journals. The researchers identified various reasons why the students did not format their journals. First, the students lacked skills on how to write reflective assignments. The students also had fear. This is because the students are used to writing assignments, but not reflective assignments. Another reason why the students did not format the journals is privacy (Langer, 2002). The students did not want to expose their privacy. Lastly, poor relationship between the teacher and the student affected the students’ performance. Other researchers like Fisher and Abba had different reasons for the results. They associated the poor formatting of journals with teacher student interaction. They argue that journals encouraged teachers and students to interact well. The students did not present the content well. About 55% of the students were able to submit journals that reflected the last part of the choice.
The other percentage did not manage to submit reflective content .The students were able to submit reflective content and how it affects their life (Langer, 2002). This is because the instructor provided weekly comments to guide the students. This helped students learn how to reflect the content and apply it in their lives. The journals encouraged interaction between the teacher and the students. The interaction encouraged students to develop reflection skills. The reflection of the last part of the course is as a result of various experiences and practices the students had. The students were required to submit weekly journals and this helped them develop reflection skills which they used to reflect the last part of the course (Langer, 2002).Less than 5% of the students did not have an experience with journals. The results support DE Acosta’s idea that journals are important as they help students learn how to reflect. 45% of the students submitted journals that did not show reflective thinking. This is because the students did not want to analyze the content outside the book. They did not want to apply the content to learning experiences and life experiences (Langer, 2002).
Various research questions were used. The questions covered issues like students reaction to journals, how the student used learning journals during the course, importance of learning journals, disadvantages of using learning journals etc (Langer, 2002).
Strengths and weaknesses
The article has various strengths that made it be published. The article provides important information on how learning journals help students (Langer, 2002). Learning journals help students apply what they have learned in class in the work place or in their lives. Most people support the article because it encourages students to practice what they have learned. The article also encourages reflection of the content learned. It allows students to use the learning journals in their classes and this helps improve mastering of content. Students do not memorize the content, but they apply the content learned. This makes the journal important in learning as it supports reflection. The journal has some weaknesses in that it does not provide examples of how students can use learning journals and reflectikon (Langer, 2002).
The journal is important as it contains important information. The information is new to me. This is because I was not ware of importance of reflection and learning journals. It has helped med learn how to reflect content and apply it in personal life and work place. The author conducted the research in a fair manner used methods that are logical and the representation of the participants was fair (Langer, 2002).
Langer, A. M. (2002). Reflecting on practice: Using learning journals in higher and continuing education. Teaching in Higher Education, (7)3, 307–351